Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas (almost)! I can't believe that this weekend is Christmas, and the new year is around the corner.

This week has been busy with last minute preparations for the holidays and festive activities, so it really didn't leave much time to try out new recipes. I can't guarantee that we are going to make a lot of new things this coming week, either, but we'll see what happens. We made one fabulous new dinner (Pork and Mushrooms over Noodles), and I have a few cookie recipes to share. Additionally, we made Shepherd's pie again, so I included the recipe for the way that I make it. This "recipe" can be tweaked to suit your own tastes.

The weather hasn't been cooperating in terms of snow and cold weather, which is a bummer for our winter break. Since we were hoping to build a snowman, we had to build one inside. Everyone at the holiday luncheon we hosted this week loved it, kids and moms alike!
At the luncheon I served Ham & Swiss Quiche and Cranberry Chicken Salad for the adults. Both were a big hit, and I was so glad to make the quiche. I absolutely LOVE quiche (any kind), but for some reason my family doesn't love it, so I don't have many opportunities or excuses to make it very often.

I attended my sister's annual cookie exchange party this week, and there were some really fabulous cookies. Mint seemed to be a theme as there were a few varieties of mint cookies, but my favorite from the night was a cookie called Petite Peppermint Sandwiches that my sister made. I added the link to the recipe she used below. While I haven't made these myself, I certainly plan to in the future!!!!

I made my absolute favorite Christmas cookies this week, Creme de Menthe bars. I make these every year, and eating them transports me back to my childhood. My mom always makes a few types of Christmas cookies, and I always reached for these first. The picture with the recipe isn't great, but the bar certainly was!

Merry Christmas!

New Recipes

Pork and Mushrooms over Noodles
Shepherd's Pie
Creme de Menthe Bars

Shout out Recipe
Petite Peppermint Sandwiches

Creme de Menthe Bars


* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
* 4 eggs
* 1 (16 ounce) can chocolate syrup
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup unbleached self-rising flour (if you have all purpose flour, see note below)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons Creme de Menthe

* 1 cup chocolate chips
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs. Add the chocolate syrup and the vanilla and mix well.
3. Stir the flour and salt together in a small bowl, then add to the mixer bowl a little at a time. Mix well.
4. Spread the mixture evenly in a prepared 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 25 -30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, about 30 to 60 minutes.
5. Make the middle layer: In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix together the powdered sugar, butter, and Creme de Menthe. Spread all over the chocolate bottom layer, and then put the pan in the refrigerator.
6. Make the glaze: In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter together and stir until combined. Allow to cool slightly, and then spread all over the top of the mint layer. Put the pan back in the refrigerator and allow to chill thoroughly. Cut into small squares and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Growing up my mom used to make a few different kinds of cookies each Christmas season, and these were my absolute favorite! Making them and eating them now transports me back to my childhood...I hope you will enjoy them, too!

If you do not have self-rising flour, you can make it. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Mix to combine.

Shepherd's Pie

* left over roast
* left over carrots
* left over gravy
* onion
* frozen peas
* mashed potatoes

1. Make mashed potatoes.
2. Put roast and the onion (1/2 onion or whole depending on how much leftover roast you have) in your food processor, mix together.
3. Place the meat and onion in oven proof bowls.
4. Mix chopped leftover carrots and frozen peas with the meat.
5. Heat up the gravy, and spoon over the meat and vegetable mixture.
6. Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over the top of the meat, vegetables and gravy.
7. Heat until bubbling in a 350 degree oven.

We most recently made this with the cola braised pot roast, and it was delicious!!! When we make it we love to individualize it - Owen and Liam love peas but not carrots, Hannah doesn't like either, Ryan and I have both. Instead of doing one big one, which also works out really well, the individual servings are fun and everyone is much happier at the dinner table.

Pork and Mushrooms over Noodles

* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1 tbsp butter
* 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into two inch pieces
* 8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
* 1/2 cup shallots, sliced
* 1 carrot, diced
* 2 tbsp flour
* 1cup apple cider
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
* egg noodles

1. Remove the silver skin from the pork tenderloin then cut into small bite size pieces. Pat dry with a paper towel then season the pork with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot add the pork and sauté until brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove pork to a plate.
3. Add the mushrooms, carrot, and shallots in the same skillet over medium heat. Cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the apple cider to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add pork with residual juices and the thyme.
5. Simmer for 15 -20, taste and re-season with salt and pepper. Serve over egg noodles.

I was initially skeptical about cider in this dinner, but it was a huge hit! All 5 of us enjoyed this, and will definitely be making it again. This is a great fall meal - such autumnal flavors with the pork and cider, and very warm and homey. It would be great to serve after a day of apple picking or a trip to the pumpkin patch!

Petite Peppermint Sandwiches


* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 recipe Peppermint-Cream Cheese Filling (below)
* Finely crushed peppermint candies or red sprinkles


1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.
2. Divide dough into four portions. Shape each portion into an 8-inch roll. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut rolls into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or just until firm. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
4. To assemble, spread Peppermint-Cream Cheese Filling over the bottom of one cookie, spreading to the edges. Press the bottom of a second cookie against the filling, pressing lightly until filling comes just slightly over edges. Roll edges of cookies in crushed candies or sprinkles.
5. Layer filled cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Peppermint Cream Cheese Filling


* 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
* 3 cups powdered sugar
* Milk


In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and peppermint extract. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in enough milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a filling of spreading consistency. Makes 1-2/3 cups.

My sister made these and I LOVED them! I haven't made these myself yet, but certainly will in the future.

Link to original from Better Homes and Gardens: Petite Peppermint Sandwiches on